Amidst everything that’s happening, President Rodrigo Duterte certified two bills seeking to extend the validity of the 2020 national budget and the so-called “Bayanihan 2” legislation as urgent steps to ensure that the government has enough fiscal leeway to finance next year’s expensive pandemic response.
Duterte gave presidential certification to House Bill 6656 in a letter to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday, which would stretch the availability of funds under the current outlay until the end of 2021. This is same as House Bill 8063, which aims to expand the usefulness of the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act. or Republic Act 11494.
Duterte shared that the immediate passage of the two bills ensure the continuous implementation of various government programs, projects and activities addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and attaining economic recovery.
The order from Duterte was critical. The Lower House will continue with the second and third readings of the bills in two days, instead of waiting for three days in between, by telling lawmakers that both bills are desperately needed. As it is, until Congress goes on a holiday break on December 19, House lawmakers have a few days left in session.
Part of the funding given by the stimulus measure was separated from the current P4.1 trillion outlay, so extending the 2020 budget’s validity would also enable the government to completely disburse what’s left of the larger expenditure plan.
Consequentl, lengthening the effectiveness of the budget this year also ensures that next year, two outlays will work in tandem. This in turn, would allow the government to undertake infrastructure projects next year that have been trapped by lockdowns that have impeded construction work.
Morever, The printed copies of House Bill 6656 were distributed to House Committee on Appropriations members last December 10, based on legislative records. Meanwhile a replacement version of House Bill 80633 was created by legislators.